Charlize Theron & Christina Ricci in Girl Meets Girl Scene

Charlize Theron & Christina Ricci star in one of the best directed/acted Girl Meets Girl scenes ever.

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1% Holds Half the World’s Wealth/Resources

Waste pickers look for recyclable items at a landfill on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. A report by Oxfam says  not enough is being done by world leaders to tackle inequality. Photo / AP

Waste pickers look for recyclable items at a landfill on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. A report by Oxfam says not enough is being done by world leaders to tackle inequality.

by Kunal Dutta

The combined wealth of the world’s richest 1% will overtake that of the remaining 99% by 2016 unless action is taken to curb “shocking extremes” of inequality, a new report warns.

The richest 1% currently own 48% of all global wealth, Oxfam says. Next year that figure is forecast to exceed 50% for the first time.

Using data from Credit Suisse’s latest global wealth report, the charity warns that rising inequality is holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when more than a billion people still live on less than US$1.25 a day.

The report warns that global wealth “is becoming increasing concentrated among a small, wealthy elite”.

The richest 1 per cent include US investor Warren Buffett, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Indian businessman Dilip Shanghvi. Those in the “1 per cent” command an average wealth of US$2.7 million per adult.

The report is released today ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Oxfam will use the summit in Switzerland to call for new measures to tackle global inequality, including a clampdown on tax evasion and a living wage for all workers.

Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, said: “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering, and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast. Failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades.

“The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

Lynn Forester de Rothschild, chief executive of E L Rothschild, said: “Extreme inequality undermines economic growth and it threatens the private sector’s bottom line.

“All those gathering at Davos who want a stable and prosperous world should make tackling inequality a top priority.”

Oxfam research shows that 20% of billionaires have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11% in the 12 months to March 2014.

The charity made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the world’s 85 richest people were as wealthy as the poorest 50%. This year, it claims that number has shrunk to 80 as the world becomes more unequal.

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Miami sniper training using target practice mugshots halted

Police in North Miami have suspended a sniper training program after it was revealed that trainees used old mugshots of black suspects during target practice.

The pictures, which featured inmates who had been arrested more than a decade ago, were discovered by a member of the National Guard who saw a bullet-riddled photo of her brother at the gun range used by police in early December.

Army Sgt. Valerie Deant told reporters she broke down in tears when she saw her brother Woody Deant, who was arrested 15 years ago, pictured in a lineup of other suspects with bullet holes through his forehead and eyes.

View image on Twitter

Family outraged after North Miami Beach Police use criminal photos as #HumanTargets. VIDEO: http://on.nbc6.com/0mqG5F1

by Andrew Mach 1-17-15

While North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis launched an internal investigation into the program in late December, it wasn’t until Friday after swelling public outcry that he formally halted the program.

“I immediately suspended the sniper training program as we conduct a thorough review of our training process and materials, ordered commercially produced training images, and opened an investigation into the matter,” Dennis said in a statement.

But Dennis said that none of the department’s policies were violated and that no disciplinary action will be taken.

He also said the grid of 22 target photos also included images of whites, Hispanics and even Osama bin Laden.

“We’ll have six pictures of people who will look very similar,” Dennis told NBC Miami. “We have an array for black males, we have an array of white and Hispanic males. And the purpose for this is to be able that they can have the sniper identify a particular individual that they’re given a small picture of and looking down range at this array of six to be able to pick the proper target out based on what was presented to them in intelligence.”

Amid a climate of strained relationships between police and minority communities across the country, Dennis released on Friday a 22-point memo with facts about the sniper program, in which he insisted the training was not racially motivated.

“This was not a race issue,” the memo said. “There was no mal-intent or prejudice involved. The same target inventory has been used for more than a decade.”

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Poker

1candle

He’d adroitly played the hands dealt him in life, sometimes off the bottom of the deck, given they rarely held more than a pair–bluffing his way to respectable if not impressive pots. He might have done better but for those wild cards in his life…the women. Yeah, he knew the poker game was crooked–but, it was the only game in town. He doubled down. Maybe he’d draw a wild card this round. He glanced at the handful of chips left…thought of pushing away from the table while he still had gas money to get home, but abandoned the idea.

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It was the heart of Saturday night in a remote wooded backwater peppered with glacier encrusted mountains and impenetrable bogs. The valleys were too narrow for the sunlight–what there was of it in a perpetually overcast Pacific NorthWest–to ever quite defrost the soil. On occasion, that happened, and the mushrooms loved it. The thick moss would beckon the tired trekker with promises of sweet blissful sleep before the rain quickened in this storied rain forest. City folks had their streets replete with sidewalks, parks, bars, and cultural event centers, their schools and modern hospitals, shopping malls, churches, super grocery stores, fruit stands, and greener salads. They had more than their fair share of the homeless, car prowls, burglaries, and drug addiction now so intense heroin was cheaper than weed for a little as $10/day to stay high. The public parks were beautiful, yes, but parents feared letting their young children play in them because of the needles littered within the grass. All in all, being in the middle of nowhere turned out to be centrally located with the kinds of amenities his urban cousins dreamed of.

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“Hit me,” he instructed the dealer. What was he hoping for?–another wild card? The Queen of Diamonds invariably left him penniless and the Queen of Hearts left him an emotional wreck–but only after an overdose of melodrama piled on self aggrandizement. These masters of the double reverse left him emotionally bankrupt as well as broke–a form of double jeopardy he could ill afford. The only straight and true one for over 30 years had none of the guile and was entirely available. Like so many men, it seemed as though he was only besotted by the ones he could not get. It often proved to be his undoing. To be sure, he had high standards, and a live one only appeared every decade or so, but the resulting chaos was just as epic.

80daykids

“Fifty dollars,” called the man on the right hoping to see what he was holding. “I’ll fold,” he replied, knowing he wasn’t going to parlay a bluff into a winning hand and wondering how he was going to get home. Then it struck him–he WAS home. This had always been his home. In his heart, he’d never left. Wasn’t that a kind of fidelity? Fortune, at least the glittery kind, had never smiled on him. Dialing For Dollars was still trying to reach him. But, the Queen of Hearts had–for that night true love was the winning hand and held all the aces. Wishing his feet had better sight, he teetered off in the dark toward a warm bed, a banked fire, good company, a prepared meal he knew lay waiting in the refrigerator for the microwave and his return. He knew the puppies would be waiting too, faithful and without reproach. Despite all his failures in the basics of the art of love, it was his bumbling feckless naivete that had always preserved the balance. Sometimes, God protects even fools.

1890shoeshineboy

Painter, lobster pirate, professional birthday clown, general contractor, journeyman carpenter, plumber, writer, paralegal, collection agency, building inspector, aspiring musician, independent investigative photojournalist, skip tracer, process server, guerrilla farmer, lab tech, California woolly white fruit-fly larva inspector, door-to-door bible salesman, producer, publisher, poet, dispossessed, sat upon, spat upon, ratted on, and a host of avocations or misfortunes too disreputable/pedestrian to mention presented evidence of a life, if not to its fullest, thoroughly lived. Yet, here he was, still breathing and feeling every new day was a good one, the race not yet run. Yes, sometimes God protects even fools and gives suckers an even break.

airhead

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Are We Safer w/Guns in the Face of Police Oppression or Not?

This publication stands 4-square for the U.S. and Washington State Constitution–ALL of it! That includes, of course, the 2nd Amendment. Many Washington residents, only recently, have shown a lack of appreciation for this fundamental right when they last sent in their ballots. We have an inalienable right to defend against ALL enemies of a free people, BOTH foreign AND domestic!

Ben Franklin was credited with saying, “When the people are afraid of the government, that’s tyranny. When the government is afraid of the people–that’s liberty!”

Today, after the Ferguson crisis, it’s clear the American people have had enough of poorly trained/corrupt police/government officials…and grand juries that refuse to hold them accountable. Yet these same local police officers are fathers, mothers, our cousins/neighbors and our countrymen. Despite evidence of our worst fears, we need them, both to keep the peace and to demonstrate there is an incentive to remain peaceful.

So how do guns play into the mix of armed police officers on patrol in our neighborhoods. It’s a volatile question in the wake of the unprovoked cold blooded murder/assassination of two officers in New York City by a man unduly influenced by the spate of hate rhetoric directed at ordinary police officers.

A historical perspective gives some hints: The Civil Rights Movement was a watershed era in American politics with many landmark legal precedents established by those advancing the cause of equal rights and social justice. Still, it wasn’t a cakewalk…or a rose garden. Not only did a lot of Freedom Riders die for the cause, but huge numbers of blacks were beaten, tortured, murdered, not only in the South, but in the North. Dr. Martin Luther Kings, Jr. was reviled by white racist churches (e.g. Mormons) after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, as nothing but a ‘common criminal’ (alluding to his stint in the Burmingham Jail for protesting Jim Crow laws).  No, it was a rough VIOLENT fractious time and even King recognized the obvious moral imperative for survival including by means of self defense. Thus was born the notorious Black Panther Party which advocated openly carrying fire arms as a means of protecting the black community from premeditated murder at the hands of local authorities and police officials (e.g. The Algiers Motel massacre in Detroit, the MOVE Commune in Philadephia, etc.). Even so, there’s clearly a trade-off between increasing police paranoia of ambush or violent confrontations (often justified) and submitting to a police state.

Young people today may not be aware of the lackadaisical attitude many privileged whites had towards demands for Civil Rights by the black community back in the day. “Yes, the Negroes should have equal rights…eventually. But, they should be patient and not create street confrontations or social unrest by pursuing it too vigorously or immediately.” Yeah, that’s right–hurry up and wait some MORE!  In fact, Congress was rather slow to implement some Civil Rights reforms until places like Watts, Detroit, and Newark began to burn. The National Guard was called out. The media was told looters would be shot on sight. But Congress and local State houses acted!–fast.

With armed bands of Black Panthers patrolling black neighborhoods, the police were no longer as cavalier or violent with residents. They no longer stopped black citizens lightly, and were circumspect when they did.

Another obvious example of this principle came years later during the 80’s with the popular COPS TV series. If there was to be a search/arrest warrant served on a residence, the ones where no armed confrontation was anticipated were assailed by a battering ram to the front door literally only a second or 2 at the most after police announced their presence and that of the warrant. Where the resident was known to be armed (no matter how elderly), a line of police cars would assemble at the curbside, a bull horn would be produced, Mr. Jones would be informed he was surrounded and ordered to come out with his hands up, unlike the resident of the demolished front door example filmed with a police boot on his neck being ordered to “spit it out!” Clearly, having a weapon with which to defend a citizen’s home has the intended effect the founding fathers intended. Perhaps guns make the community a more polite arena. They appear to give LEO’s pause. That’s as it should be. They even gave Congress pause along with local legislatures. The old sop, “power comes from the barrel of a gun” seems to yet hold true. It’s the principle we use in our international gunboat diplomacy, and it was a lynch pin in the Civil Rights Movement.

Police Stopped Brutalizing Protesters When Armed Citizens Showed Up to Support a John Crawford Rally

armedfolks

by Moreh B.D.K. w/additional reporting by E.J. Newsman (dateline: 12-27-14)

After two weeks of the Beavercreek Police brutalizing peaceful protesters for John Crawford, today’s #OpJohnCrawford protest did not see one officer so much as slow down, stop or get out of their cruisers to harass protesters.

On Christmas Eve, our reporters, reporters with Alternative Media Syndicate, as well as those with the Greene County Herald and local NBC 2 News were all threatened by police for simply recording them illegally assaulting citizens, including Elementary School age children, mothers with strollers attempting to go shopping, and a retired University of Dayton Law Professor.

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Some are suggesting that the reason why police have felt they could brutalize protesters at the last two rallies before this was because there were very few visible guns in sight.

Recently, NPR ran an illuminating piece called “‘Guns Kept People Alive’ During The Civil Rights Movement” which argued not only that the roll of armed civil rights leaders has been downplayed in popular conceptions of the 50s, 60s and 70s activism, but also that Martin Luther King Jr’s own attitude and history with firearms for personal defense was not as black and white as it is often imagined. The piece argued that “passive resistance did not necessarily mean an unwillingness to use force to protect themselves from violence in other circumstances.”

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In an interview with the author of This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible, the author Charles E. Cobb Jr. explains the following:

“I’m very much concerned with how the history of the southern freedom movement or civil rights movement is portrayed. And, I’m very conscious of the gaps in the history, and one important gap in the history, in the portrayal of the movement, is the role of guns in the movement. I worked in the South, I lived with families in the South. There was never a family I stayed with that didn’t have a gun. I know from personal experience and the experiences of others, that guns kept people alive, kept communities safe and all you have to do to understand this is simply think of black people as human beings and they’re gonna respond to terrorism the way anybody else would. …The southern freedom movement has become so defined, the narrative of the movement has become so defined by non-violence that anything presented outside that narrative framework really isn’t paid that much attention to. I like the quip that Julian Bond made…that really the way the public understands the civil rights movement can be boiled down to one sentence: Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, then the white folks saw the light and saved the day.”

armedfolks4

Today’s protest at the Beavercreek Walmart was by all definitions peaceful, and without incident. But why weren’t all of the smirking, high-fiving, bullying cops out to antagonize protesters today?

armedfolks5

Clearly all of the protesters today were not armed. In fact, only about half were. But that appeared to be enough to keep the police from trying the antics of the past two protests, including running into a woman at the same Walmart, in a pedestrian crosswalk, with police SUV cruiser #149 and then driving away without stopping.

Police Chief Evers has thus far refused to charge that officer – or even cite him – for the hit-and-run that was caught on video from multiple citizens.

armedfolks6

At the last protest, officers even physically assaulted and threatened a protester in a wheelchair, nearly tipping her out of her chair. Today she said she felt much safer.

Several of the protesters we talked to said that they do not personally like guns whatsoever. But they, like all of the protesters there, had come out to support John Crawford, not to declare their support for all of each others personal politics.

There were notably less protesters today than at the Christmas Eve rally. Today saw a few dozen protesters of all backgrounds and from all ends of the political spectrum.

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Representatives from Yellow Springs Cop Block said, “considering there were a handful of folks who we were told had been going around discouraging people from attending because there would be more than just one mindset of people in attendance, the turn out isn’t half bad. This was real progress towards people looking past personal differences and keeping the focus on John and the details of his murder.

As for the next rally, “We will keep trying to get people of all perspectives and groups to come out together for John, like what happened today. We don’t all have to agree on yes guns or no guns or Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Anarchist or Marxist, but this isn’t about that: it’s about justice for John Crawford.

armedfolks9

Do you think that the presence of armed protested helped keep the police in check? Certainly there was no civil disobedience going on at this rally, unlike the die-ins, but the vast majority of those arrested at the previous protests were not in fact violating any laws, or participating in acts of civil disobedience. Some were, as noted, journalists, while others were simply talking on their way out to their vehicles.

While guns don’t seem to be the only thing that distinguished today’s protest from the two just before it, it definitely does seem to be one factor.

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The Paradox of American Racism & Bigotry

Who was the most racist modern president? Here are 5 surprising candidates

FDR

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

by Larry Schwartz

What these presidents said in private and what they did in public were often sharply at odds.

Given America’s history of slavery, the stain that won’t go away, the argument could reasonably be made that all of our lily-white presidents, Obama excepted for obvious reasons, were racists. Out of our first 12 presidents, up to Zachary Taylor, all but John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams actually owned black human beings. Andrew Jackson, our seventh president and gracer of the $20 bill, may have been the most racist president of all. Despite significant opposition from Congress, Jackson forged the infamous Trail of Tears, forcibly relocating tens of thousands of Cherokee people to territories west of the Mississippi River. He sincerely believed that the removal would allow the Native Americans, “to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.”

Slavery-era presidents are the obvious candidates for the “racist” label. More surprising are these five 20th-century presidents who can compete for the title of most racist modern president.

1. Woodrow Wilson

Let’s start with a progressive Democrat, so our conservative critics don’t accuse us of right-wing bashing. Wilson is not on this list as a token, though. He earned the right to be called a racist. As president of Princeton University, he said, “The whole temper and tradition of the place [Princeton] are such that no Negro has ever applied for admission, and it seems unlikely that the question will ever assume practical form.”

As our 28th U.S. president, Wilson signed legislation making interracial marriage illegal in Washington DC, in order to, as he said, “reduce the social friction building up in American society.” The army under Wilson was segregated and most black people were not allowed to fight in World War I. When a delegation to the White House protested, Wilson retorted that, “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

An apologist for Southern racism, President Wilson believed that the South was forced to enact racist Jim Crow laws as a consequence of harsh carpetbagger laws that were imposed during Reconstruction after the Civil War. The Ku Klux Klan, “began to attempt by intimidation what they were not allowed to attempt by the ballot or by any ordered course of public action.” Some historians have even accused Wilson of idealizing slavery, viewing slaves as “indolent” and masters as patient in dealing with them. Indeed, critics argue that Wilson held the opinion that slavery was wrong on economic, not moral, grounds.

2. Theodore Roosevelt

Next up, a progressive Republican. Teddy Roosevelt makes a surprise appearance on our racist list. Despite representing everything progressive Democrats see missing in today’s Republican Party, Teddy failed the test of tolerance. He was a devout follower of eugenics, the belief that there are superior and inferior strains of humankind, and that it is best to filter out the inferior brand in order to foster the development of mankind. “Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind…. Some day, we will realize that the prime duty, the inescapable duty, of the good citizen of the right type, is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world; and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type,” he said.

In 1914 Teddy Roosevelt said that, “criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them.” It was, of course, no mystery as to who the “citizens of the wrong type” were. Roosevelt once referred to Africans as, “ape-like naked savages, who…prey on creatures not much wilder or lower than themselves.” In a 1905 statement he asserted that Caucasians were “the forward race” destined to raise “the backward race[s]” through “industrial efficiency, political capacity and domestic morality.” Whites, he felt, needed to reproduce in abundance or else risk “race suicide.” Black people were not the only targets of his racism. He had this to say about American Indians: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of 10 are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the 10th.”

3. Franklin Roosevelt

Not to be outdone by his wife’s famous Uncle Teddy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, considered by many to be one of our greatest presidents, was a racist in his own spectacular way. Under his orders, more than 100,000 Japanese Americans were relocated and imprisoned during World War II for the crime of having Asian heritage.

Anyone who doubts this was racism need only compare this to way many hundreds of thousands of German Americans were treated during the war. In 1936, after the Berlin Olympics, FDR invited the athletes who competed for the U.S. to the White House. But Jesse Owens, who had won four gold medals, humiliating Adolph Hitler in the process, did not receive the invitation from the president. No surprise then, that Owens stumped for Roosevelt’s Republican rival, Alf Landon, in the 1936 presidential election. “Hitler didn’t snub me—it was our president who snubbed me,” Owens said during the campaign.

Because he needed the political support of southern Democrats, FDR did not support anti-lynching laws. Roosevelt placed Jimmy Byrnes, a South Carolina overt racist in the Supreme Court, and almost named him vice-president instead of Truman in 1944, which would have made Byrnes president following FDR’s death. Apologists will argue, with some merit, that FDR’s New Deal programs should speak for him, and in truth, African Americans were widely supportive of him. Still, there is little doubt that FDR failed to transcend his time, and his views on race were not enlightened.

4. Richard Nixon

Nixon burnished his racist credentials in the 1968 campaign for the presidency by adopting the “Southern Strategy,” which entailed appealing to the racist nature prevalent at that time among white Southerners, insinuating that the Democrats sold out their interests to the African-American community via Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. In adopting this strategy, Nixon turned a formerly Democratic South into the Republican stronghold that exists to this day, and secured the ultimate prize for himself, the presidency.

Once in the oval office, Nixon, as we know, expanded what had been a more limited secret tape-recording system. Not only did this prove his undoing once Watergate reared its head, it also exposed Nixon’s private, vicious nature. He was recorded expressing opinions about all sorts of groups: Jews were communists out to legalize marijuana; the ancient Greeks and Romans were a bunch of “fags”; and African Americans were “Negro bastards” who preferred to live on welfare like “a bunch of dogs.”

Nixon, however, did see a future for the black community—though he belived it would take 500 years to accomplish: “They are coming along, and that after all they are going to strengthen our country in the end because they are strong physically and some of them are smart.” In another rant, he asserted that blacks couldn’t run Jamaica or any other country. “Blacks can’t run it. Nowhere, and they won’t be able to for a hundred years, and maybe not for a thousand … Do you know maybe one black country that’s well run?”

5. Lyndon Johnson

Anyone who has read anything about the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson knows what a complicated and contradictory man he was. On the one hand, modern black America can look at LBJ as a partner in the long and ongoing struggle for civil rights in the United States. It was LBJ who pushed through the civil rights bills in 1957, 1964 and 1965 that finally gave African Americans the same rights (at least on paper) as white America. On the other hand, there can be no question that Johnson was a racist who looked down on people of color as inferior. In the 1940s, he referred to Asians as “hordes of barbaric yellow dwarves.”

During his congressional career, he was mostly a reliable part of the Southern bloc of politicians who thwarted civil rights bills at every turn. As president, when he appointed Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court over a lesser-known black judge, LBJ explained in private, “When I appoint a nigger to the bench, I want everybody to know he’s a nigger.” He even referred to his own Civil Rights bill as the “nigger bill.” Still, Johnson had enough self-awareness to say, about the struggle for civil rights, “It is not just Negroes but all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry.” There is little doubt he included (or should have) himself in that statement.

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The Legend of Deirdre & Bane of Patriarchy

DeirdreLegend
adapted from the original Gaelic by John Stuart Dick

I
A long time ago in Ireland, King Connacher of Ulster stood on a raised podium in the Great Hall of his palace on the eve of Samhain. The day was over and it was now twilight, the beginning of Samhain. More than a thousand people gathered in the King’s Hall and the uproar was joyous as the King’s servants prepared for the first night of the feast. Poets sang, women danced, and the King’s knights, the Knights of the Red Branch, laid down their arm to join in the merriment, and told stories of noble adventures. Despite the merriment, Cathbad the druid stood alone in the stone-archway window staring into the otherworld. Perhaps only Malcolm, the King’s harper, was at peace, for his wife, Elva, was with child. They sat together on a pile of woven blankets in a darkened corner of the Great Hall talking in gentle whispers.

King Connacher raised his wine horn in a grand gesture. He was about to speak when a cry arose that pierced the air. Fear spread through the people and silence dropped across the room. A few knights drew their weapons and prepared to defend the King.

“Do not stir,” commanded the King. “Take not one step until the cause of that noise be known.” Cathbad stepped forward into the Great Hall and raised his staff. He removed the hood from his cloak and his silver hair reflected the candlelight. His face wrinkled as a winter apple, looked up slowly and he said to the King, “I have been observing the clouds, the age of the moon, and the posture of the stars this week.” He walked to where Elva lay, for it had been discovered that it was the child of her womb that had cried out. He placed his hand over Elva’s stomach and spoke of the child’s fortune.  “This is no common child, but one of great beauty, and her name shall be Deirdre. From her beauty will arise a sharp sword to split the tree of Ulster. Kings will seek to marry her and this will lead to disaster. The Red Branch will divide itself and there will be strife and warfare because of her.” Having spoken, he retired again to his contemplation of the skies.

“Kill the child,” cried the knights. “Is the life of one child worth the destruction of many? What say you, King Connacher?” The King knew the druid’s prophecies to be accurate, but his curiosity about such beauty overcame him. He spoke calmly to the people. “It is not good that Elva should see her child die before it is born. And I must not bring pain to the hearts of my guests.”

Many people stirred and murmured to one another, not persuaded. Connacher raised his left hand for silence.

  “This child will be born,” he continued. “I will have her raised in a secluded place and I will marry her myself when she is grown. As my charge and then as my wife she will be unable to cause harm. In this way I will defeat the prophecy.”

II
In two weeks time, the child Deirdre was born. Before she was a year old, the King built a thatched house of stone upon the knoll on a distant hill. A fine orchard was planted around the cottage and enclosed by a circular wall of fieldstones. Deirdre was to live there as the sole charge of Levercham, the King’s Storyteller who, now a young woman, had been raised in King Connacher’s household. The King trusted her beyond any other. “Guard my treasure,” he told Levercham, “and you will see your reward.”

Deirdre was raised among the great hunting lands. Levercham taught Deirdre all she knew about herbs, flowers, trees, and skies, and how to play the harp and sing. Daily, she grew more patient and kind, honest and fair–and loved her. Her hair was crimson and her body was honey-colored like a golden orchid. Only her cheeks and lips and fingertips were coloured by faint carmine. To gaze upon her was to find one’s gaze slipping, grasping for a hold on some part of her that was not in balance with the remainder. She fired the imagination with a look or a gesture, and which gave meanings to common things.  Let her kneel and stroke the head of a fine hunting dog and you felt there was goodness in all animals. Her heart grew strong and revealed in its quality in her body—a vision without horizons where life itself could be endlessly explored.

One day in the autumn of her fifteenth year, Levercham told Deirdre that she was to marry the King the following year. It saddened her and she became despondent. When Levercham saw her distress, she said, “But you shall marry the King!–a great honour. This is to be the honour of your life.” Deirdre merely sighed and refused to eat.

III
One morning, Deirdre sat by the window looking out at an early snowfall. A congress of ravens suddenly descended upon the orchard and one landed on the snow to peck at a beautiful apple that had recently fallen. “Why, that bird,” said Deirdre, “is like the man I saw in my dream last night. His hair was dark like the raven’s, his skin fair as the snow, and his cheeks red as that apple. He is the man I shall marry.”  But Levercham called her away from the window.

The winter months that followed were grey and tremulous. Lowered skies released mists of snow upon the hut. Finally, spring came and one day Deirdre was out collecting wood for the stove when she heard a light singing voice. Three hunters were upon a path along the northern most edge of the Royal forest. Deirdre found their song enchanting, but the hunters took no notice of her. As they passed, her attention fell to the tallest hunter. He entered the forest as the other two traveled on. “He is the man of my vision,” she said incredulously. Deirdre could not contain herself, she hurriedly gathered her skirts to follow after him.

IV
Deirdre found the hunter in a wide clearing in the forest. He was a young knight of the Red Branch with grey certain eyes. The canopy of tall oaks spread overhead, the branches reaching together but not quite touching. Deirdre was compelled by a force she had never known before. She went near to him. From  the corner of her eye, she saw the sunbeams of light streaming downward, though they seemed to her to shoot from the earth towards the sky. Her heart throbbed in her chest as she drew her face to his own. She waited a moment, then she kissed him. Stepping away, Deirdre quietly spoke this speech. “I saw you in a vision. I will run away with you and love you  forever. My kiss is against the King’s rule and I have come away with my mistress without permission. At the new moon, they will take me to his palace to be his wife. You must take me away from here, as in days of old, when Dectera loved the green harper, and ran away with him forever.”

The hunter looked at her and he spoke. “I am Naois, the eldest of the sons of Uisnach.” He had never seen such beauty. As he spoke he trembled, for he realized who he now held in his arms. “Do you not remember the Druid’s prophecy? There is still time for you to return.”

“I value this one moment more than ten lifetimes with Connacher.” Deirdre looked into Naois’ eyes and he there decided. He gave her his love.

They ran together to find Naois” brothers, Allen and Arden, who welcomed Deirdre, but feared for their brother’s safety. They together decided to leave that night so they gathered provisions and left in a hurry going into exile by sea to Alba,  that is Scotland.

V
Naois, Deirdre, Allen and Arden settled at the head of Loch Etive. They built a home of red clay at the top of a waterfall, and called the home, “Granian Deirdre,” which means Deirdre’s Sunny Home. The mountain people of Argyll welcomed the great warriors. Naois caught the river’s salmon and the deer of the glen, and Deirdre thought that none could be so content as they. For many moons they lived happily. The months became years and time moved slowly and beautifully—slower than a candle burns, slower, indeed, that a memory fades.

VI
Back in Ireland, King Connacher had, through force of arms, destroyed or made peace with his enemies and established his right to rule. His land was prosperous, but he had become restless. He went to see Cathbad the Druid on an evening two years after the exile of Naois. Cathbad listened in silence, for he knew what weighed upon the King.

King Connacher spoke of it this way. “Our greatest people, the three torches of the Gael, Naois, Allen and Arden, are not amongst us. It is unfit that they be in exile on account of a woman only. I am going to send Fergus mac Roigh to Alba to announce the King’s pardon, and invite them here to Emhain Macha, for a great feast.”

”So shall it be,” said Cathbad. And it was done.

Fergus arrived three days later with the King’s message, and there Naois welcomed him. Fergus spoke of news from Ulster and nostalgia grew in Naois. He desired to go home more than anything and he went to Deirdre in a green field high above the glen to tell her the good news.

She listened to Naois and was frightened.  They talked until a pale wash of light remained in the western sky, though Deirdre knew his resolve and that nothing could change it.

In the morning they walked along the high cliffs over the reef and the hissing waters of the ocean. She tried to persuade Naois from departing.

“I had a vision last night. Three ravens came to us from Emhain Macha with three drops of honey in their beaks, and took away with them three drops of blood.”

“What means this dream?”

“It means Fergus comes to us with offers of peace as sweet as honey, but the three drops of blood are Allen, Arden, and you, my soul. Connacher is a flatterer and the honey is a trap for death.”

Despite the vision, Naois decided to return without Deirdre’s consent. “We will lay aside our grievance,” Naois told Deirdre. “We sail tomorrow morning.” Deirdre shed tears through the night and hardly slept.

VII
In the morning they gathered at the shore where Fergus waited with the sailing ship. The air smelled of tar and sunburned barnacles. They set off early, the mist intermingled with the sky and the the coast of Alba became blue, then pale blue as it gradually faded from sight altogether.

By midnight the full moon glowed upon their sails and the wind tugged hard at the ropes. Deirdre brought forth her harp and sang a gentle song. The brothers were stilled by its sadness. They each looked upwards while she sang and their hearts were halved more swiftly than the sword divides an apple.

At last, they could see the sunrise upon the north hills of Ireland. Onshore, Fergus traveled ahead by horse and gave his word to the King. “The Sons of Uisnach have come. Let your kindness be shown,” he said

“But I am not ready to receive them,” said Connacher. “Send them to the Inn of the Red Branch. My house will be ready tomorrow.”

VIII
Late that night, King Connacher sent for a warrior, Gelban Grednach, to the Inn where Naois and Deirdre stayed.  “Go to the Inn, where Deirdre stays and tell me whether she has kept her great beauty. This I must know quickly.”

Gelban hurried to the Inn. Out of breath, he looked in through a slat in the window. So great was Deirdre’s beauty that he gasped and gave himself away. Naois looked up at Grednach, angrily seized some dice from a table, and hurled them at the window. One struck Grednach in the eye and blinded him. Grednach howled as he ran back to the King who was pacing in his chamber.

When Grednach entered, blood streamed from his face.

“You have seen her?” asked the King.

“I have, and while I was looking Naois took my eye out.” He cringed at the pain.

“How does she appear?” demanded the King.

“I say the truth. Although my eye has been blinded, were it not for your urgent request, it was my one desire to remain there and gaze upon her for all my days.”

Connacher flew into a rage and immediately gathered one hundred brave men in his great hall.

“Go down to the Inn at once. Kill the strangers, and bring Deirdre back to me alive or you shall all die.”

The warriors prepared for battle.

Unknown to the King, Levercham had been hidden in the crowd and ran ahead to warn Naois.

” I will put an end to this,” said Naois when he heard the news. “My brothers and I will stop the pursuit.” The brothers prepared for battle in haste. Fully armed, they went forth upon the great plain towards a distant copse and hid themselves in the shadowy tanglewood.
During the millennia that men have lived in the world with other men, they have battled one another, but on this night there were none so disadvantaged as the Sons of Uisnach. But it is also true  that there were none with such noble hearts. Indeed, by measurement of spirit, each brother was the equivalent of twenty warriors.

In a rush, the King’s warriors appeared at the edge of the plain and the young heroes went straight into the fray. The brothers swords shone in the gloom with a gleam of chill flame, so deadly were the hearts of those who had been betrayed. It was impossible to tell among the clashing swords who challenged whom and blood soaked the grass until it was a slippery pool. When the fighting had ended, the brothers had laid down the entire hundred.

IX
Connacher came to the edge of the plain and cried out with wrath, but the Sons of Uisnach and Deirdre were traveling across the great plain in the darkness towards the shore, towards Alba, towards home.

The King ordered Cathbad the Druid to his side and spoke in forced calmness. “Stop them or I shall see to it that you shall be banished forever.”

Silently, Cathbad went to work. He raised a forest on the plain, with dense undergrowth, but the brothers went through it as easily as though it were air.

Then the druid turned the plain into a freezing sea. The brothers stripped their shirts from their backs. Deirdre climbed upon Naois’ shoulders and they swam against the howling current. Their speed did not slow and the brothers traveled as swiftly as if they had fled on foot.

Seeing this the King frowned and the druid feared for his life. He raised his arms and the sea turned to stone, rocks as sharp as swords seared upwards, and ground together with a great noise, chewing like the monstrous teeth of some enormous granite creature.

The brothers ran upon the stones but slipped and fell many times. Finally, Allen, the youngest, cried out in pain and Naois took him upon his right shoulder, but he soon died. Naois did not let him go, but continued to carry him. He looked around for Arden but saw, to his misery, that he had also died, and the will to live was torn from him. Wounded and heartbroken, not even the love of Deirdre could sustain Naois, and he slipped between two stones. Lying within the gnashing rocks, he was overcome, and died without a word. At this instant the plain returned to grass.

“They are gone,” said Cathbad. “The Sons of Uisnach are dead. They shall trouble you no more.” He slipped back into the night.

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X
The King went forth to behold Deirdre for himself. She knelt over Naois and his brothers in tears. While still deep in her sorrow the King ordered her taken away and locked in his palace. He demanded the brothers be buried in a grave where they lay. The people did so and marked the place with a standing stone, with the name Uisnach.

The prophecy of Deirdre had come to pass and she stayed in the household of Connacher. She could not eat nor sleep nor cry. After thirty days, a soft blanket of snow fell upon the world outside her window. She sent a foot-warrior for her harp. Alone alone in her locked room she sang quietly to Naois. She knew she was dying as surely as though it had been ordered by Connacher. She looked upon the vast empty plain where the battle had been held as she sang:

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In skies of frozen snow
Where winds of sadness roam
Red sun’s burning low
You were my home
Where I would go

In green fields
Now unknown
Your name upon
The standing stone
Love invites
One last call
When death from life
Begins to fall

The streams no longer go
To tides of distant seas
No love can grow old
Without memories
Your arms my home
Where I would sleep

Tears
Now unfold
How can I now
Alone grow old
Dusty Stars
Shed their lights
When death from life
Slips silently to the night

XII
In the morning, when the King called for her, Deirdre was dead. The King ordered her buried in the hills where she had been raised. In the night, however, a small band of people in Ulster stole into the night and removed her to a grave on the Great Plain, beside the grave of Naois. The people drove a stake of Yew wood to mark each grave.

Two years later, beside the standing stone, grew two beautiful Yew trees. Though the trunks emerged from the ground six feet apart, the trees had grown together and had twisted around one another. The branches were intertwined, so that the two trees were one. All this happened a long time ago in Ireland, and though the stone has crumbled to dust, the trees still grow there today.

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County Board Arrested by Citizens

“They used to laugh when I said I wanted to be a comedian, well they’re not laughing now.”
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by Barry Donegan, Adam Andrzejewski, and the Better Government Association

Clark County, Illinois — Sometimes citizens can be so frustrated with county board members they wish someone could just place them under arrest. Well, that is exactly what citizens in Clark County, Illinois did.

Illinois’ number one manufactured product is corruption. More than 95 percent of the Illinois legislature is safe in gerrymandered districts. The incumbent governor has three current federal investigations of his administration, but the Attorney General/state’s attorney class can’t find public vice anywhere.

Residents that voted in the recent election said they are hoping officials have learned from the past mistakes of others.

So what can the law abiding citizen do? The answer is coming from some regular guys in southern Illinois who decided to hold public officials accountable. They call themselves the “Watchdogs.”

Kirk Allen and John Kraft — two military veterans — live in Edgar County which just might be the most corrupt county in the country. For a couple of watchdogs, it’s a target rich environment.

In an effort to take back their government from self-serving politicians and bureaucrats, Kraft and Allen established a group called the Edgar County Watchdogs. Through a combination of public pressure, Freedom of Information filings, lawsuits, and media exposure, they have created a system that deeply threatens Illinois’ corrupt, entrenched political establishment. They operate a blog called Illinois Leaks that exposes corruption at the state and local levels. The blog is so popular that, it is trusted more than the local paper.

Considering the fact that, according to Forbes, their home county’s government has racked up over $79 million in debt all on its own while serving only 18,000 residents, Kraft and Allen have their work cut out for them.

By relentlessly pursuing justice for even the smallest infractions by bureaucrats and politicians, the Edgar County Watchdogs have driven 102 public officials to resign from their posts, including 33 officials in Edgar County alone. The pair busted the mayor of Redmond for attempting to hold office while living out of town. They represented themselves in court and beat Illinois Assistant Attorney General Emma Steimel in a lawsuit seeking access to state e-mails. Officials who have resigned due to the Watchdogs’ efforts include a property tax assessor, the Edgar County board chairman, an entire airport board and its manager, the attorney for Kansas Township’s fire department, Shiloh’s superintendent of schools, and Effingham’s health department administrator, among others. After they exposed corrupt, illegal, and self-serving spending habits by the Ford-Iroquois County health department, the entire bureaucracy was dissolved. In some cases, federal agents have even stepped in to investigate and issue subpoenas to local officials after receiving tips from Kraft and Allen.

Public boards are used to facing angry crowds, but most have never encountered what happened at one recent meeting in central Illinois.

In what was one of their most epic displays of political crime-fighting, which was captured on video, Allen and Kraft held the entire Clark County Park District Board under citizen’s arrest on May 13, 2014, for violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act, a Class C misdemeanor.

When asked if there would be public comment, one of the board members said, “I vote no.” Followed by five other board members.

Board attorney, Kate Yargus, could be heard on video saying there would be no public comment that night, and told the board members they were “free to go,” even after Kraft’s citizen’s arrest announcement. She tried to cite statute to Kraft, but before she could finish, he said, “Just sit down, you are making yourself look like a fool.”

Deputies were dispatched to the scene, but instead, Clark County Sheriff, Jerry Parsley, personally responded that night. Parsley said he knew it was a heated situation and felt it would be best if he handled it. He said that Kraft handled the citizen’s arrest responsibly, and the board was definitely in violation of the Open Meetings Act by not allowing the public to speak.

“It’s not that they should have. They’re mandated to,” Parsley said. “The people need to have their voice. It’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.”

The sheriff arrested six of the board members. The seventh board member was not arrested because he voted against the other members. As they were escorted out of the building, the crowd cheered.

The board had previously laughed at the watchdog group, calling them trouble makers; however, the Sheriff and the State Attorney’s Office didn’t see it that way.

Kraft said, “Every citizen, in every state, county, and city, should take note. Make sure their local government officials are working for the people, and not for themselves.”

A lawsuit against the board is still pending. Their next board meeting is scheduled for late November.

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A Million Ways to Die in Prison

DEATH IN PRISON

prisoncell

by Daniel Genis

Murder, suicide, illness, old age: These deaths stalk us all, but in prison, they collect us so much more cheaply.

Before my decade of incarceration, I had never seen a dead body. By the time I was done, I knew the many ways death can claim prisoners.

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It took two years of heroin addiction followed by five counts of armed robbery for me to get sentenced to  12 years in 2003. I had graduated NYU just a few years earlier and begun a career in publishing, but the addiction got the best of me. I may have expressed my contrition during the robberies enough for the newspapers to dub me “the Apologetic Bandit,” but the judge gave me the minimum of 123 months. I was released in February 2014 without meeting death, but I watched him pass often enough.

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The euphemism most commonly used by convicts for dying is to “be taken off the count.” We were all counted thrice a day; if it didn’t add up, everything stopped until it did. One way of legitimately coming off the guards’ count was to die. Release, pardon or the Rapture were other legal options. But death is most common.

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The three basic ways for prisoners to die are old age, disease or violently.

Violent ends can be self-inflicted, at the hands of fellow prisoners, or caused by the guards. Death by illness is often avoidable, but preventative care that could treat conditions that later kill doesn’t exist inside. And some procedures are not afforded prisoners. While they can donate organs, convicts cannot receive them. Medical neglect takes many lives as well. Expensive treatments for the elderly are usually avoided in favor of palliative care; there are two separate facilities for dying in New York state. All the junkies try to transfer to them, for the abundance of morphine.

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Old age is the saddest and rarest way to go; I witnessed it only once. Sentences making such outcomes inevitable were once rare, but many inmates are serving them now. I met a 20 year old with a sentence of 50 to life; he had used an army rifle to kill two pedophiles he looked up on the Internet and hoped to live long enough to make parole. Because he was a virgin.

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As prisoners die, every year there is a new oldest convict. In 2007, the oldest prisoner was 90 and dying. He was paralyzed from the waist down, a World War II veteran and had six weeks to live. There is a procedure called “compassionate release” allowing terminally ill men to die at home. He made the grade and we all said goodbye. But at the gate, the ancient man’s wheelchair was turned around. The compassionate release was cancelled and he was sent back to his cell. The pre-war records in Albany revealed a conviction the fellow earned at 16 before going off to war. Today it would be considered a felony, classifying him as a “two-timer” and therefore ineligible for special release. He died in his cell a few weeks later.

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Prison is a dangerous place to get sick. I spent four years in a prison where each handicapped convict was issued an underpaid inmate assistant. This arrangement demonstrated how easy it was to die. The invalid’s life depended on his helper’s good will. Using a finger to stimulate the paralyzed prisoner’s rectum, allowing him to defecate, was no doubt the least favorite part of the job. A cheerful convict was found dead by his devoted caretaker one morning. He cried crocodile tears, as it was his fault. The pair had argued, and the assistant ceased performing this most onerous of duties. The paralyzed convict couldn’t tell, and when he died a few weeks later, poisoned by his own feces, it was all written off as an accident. I happened to run into the superintendent the day we got the news, and blurted out a question in an unguarded moment.

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“Why did he need to be in prison anyway? He was 80 and in a wheelchair.”

The super stopped, took the time to remember the established reply, straightened his lapels and told me that “a man in a chair can pull a trigger just like you and me.”

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Meeting one’s end violently is the most common, however, whether at the hands of another inmate or one’s own. Harming oneself is against the rules. Early one morning I was passing out hot water, when a man showed me a bucket of blood from his slashed wrists and asked for help. The night before he bought a lot of crack-cocaine on credit with no way to pay, intending to kill himself after smoking. Then he lost his nerve and decided to live after all, and I called for help. He was saved, but there were consequences. First he served 90 days in solitary for breaking the rule against self-injury. Then he was returned to the same unit to face his debts; the drug dealer asked for this favor and got it.

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Obviously, incarceration increases one’s odds of a violent death. Living in a society openly governed by force with those who have demonstrated their familiarity with it increases the danger. There are steps to lower the risk: Don’t join a gang, don’t get high, don’t gamble or owe anyone—all fairly obvious. Also important: don’t join the dating pool or compete for the attention of homosexuals. If the most common reason for jailhouse murder is money, the second is jealousy.

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I did 10 years without being scarred; I fought infrequently, only when I had no other option, and mostly in the beginning. Nevertheless, I saw a man die 10 feet from me in my first year. I knew both killer and victim but not the reason. I knew only that the hit was commissioned; the man who took the contract was a specialist. He had come to prison with a parole date two decades away, but by the time I met him he would have to be Methuselah to ever see a board. With few other options, he became a hitman and killed many times. The victim was himself dangerous, and also the strongest man in the yard. He could lift a concrete table. But he couldn’t stop the shank to his heart.

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Before the crack epidemic expanded the prison population, “jail bodies” were not even prosecuted in court. In a rather frank appraisal of the value of an incarcerated life, killing a fellow convict was punished by time in solitary up until the mid-80s. The more cynical of the old-timer cops, whom I plumbed for stories they loved to tell, said that the convict-killers should have gotten medals for public service. These days murdering a prisoner takes the assailant to court. Short trials produce convictions and sentences, but the time is often run concurrently, not adding any time to the sentence. The bids are nowhere near the standard 25 to life judges hand out for intentional murder. Prisoners’ lives are just worth less.

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Getting away with murder, in prison’s claustrophobic and snitch-ridden environment, is hard but not impossible. Ground glass is put in food to cause internal bleeding, and nicotine concentrated by boiling can cause a heart attack. Foggy nights are good for stabbing. But if by chance you are a prison guard, avoiding detection is much easier.

Thomson Prison in Thomson, IL

I was shown how much the value of my life had shrunk on my very first day in the state system. A notorious sex offender got off the bus with us. After processing in everyone else, the cops took him somewhere for a reminder of their thoughts on “rapos.” He was old, frail and handcuffed; 20 minutes later they had a crime to cover up. Something had gone wrong in that room and the guy was dead. His corpse was quickly re-shackled and returned to the bus. The paperwork was spotless: he had died in transit, the conjunction of a weak heart and long trip. I had nine years ahead of me and plenty of transit. Therefore I decided not to remember anything if anyone came investigating. But no one ever did.

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Suicide attempts are also common and many succeed. One left an image I can’t forget. One morning I got shampoo in a package. Because of an error, there were more of the blue bottles than I could use in the years left me. Selling off the extras, I saw my neighbor marvel at the scent and murmur that he wished he could afford one. Knowing the fellow to be both poor and harmless, I quietly gave him one.

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Later that day he made a call from the row of phones in the yard and reached his wife for the first time in six months. After their talk he went in and immediately hung himself. We later learned that she had left him and was hoping he would catch the hint.

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They discovered his body after it had had a few hours to hang. Removing it, the police grew tired of the dead weight and left it in front of my cell while resting, long enough for me to get a good look at his blue face. It was the same hue as the shampoo. I checked his cell and learned that he hadn’t tried it. They moved a new guy in that afternoon.

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A prisoner is a ward of the state while incarcerated, so the authorities are responsible for his safety and there are procedures to prevent suicides, which can get expensive for the prison and the state. The families of suicide victims often sue and can win large settlements. (But only for the family; inmates cannot be awarded more than $10,000 because of an  extension of the Son of Sam Law.)

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Once, when occupying a cell in near a phone, I saw the suicide prevention protocols in action. A boy fighting with his girlfriend exclaimed, “What do you want me to do, kill myself?” At that unlucky moment, his call was being randomly screened. A squad soon arrived to take him away, and I saw the sergeant punch him in the face even though he went quietly. He spent three days in a rubber room wearing a plastic smock before returning. I asked what the violence was for. It seemed that the cops knew perfectly well that he was not in danger of suicide but had to act anyway because of protocols, and the Sergeant resented his dinner being interrupted.

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When guards go off the count, things get hectic. The scorned party in a love-triangle, he blew his head off while serving overnight tower duty in 2007. He used the powerful assault rifle issued to all guards on tower duty. However, guns are never allowed inside prison walls, so the stairways to the towers are outside. The guard left a note, but the joint was shut down for days as investigators looked for a way to call this murder rather than suicide. It made sense with so many suspects at hand, less so with the tower entrance separated from them by a forty foot wall.

Inside H Block 4

Another way to die in prison that I did not list is officially; the death penalty in New York has not been used since 1963, even with the law bouncing back and forth. However, I did live in an old prison with a death house. I was once rewarded for some help with a visit to it, and sat in the electric chair for a moment. Apparently all of the staff had done it at some point, but as a prisoner my experience was rare. I did not feel the tortured souls of the departed but noticed that the viewing chamber for the witnesses was built much like peep shows are, emphasizing the observer’s dominance over the star of the show. Apparently, the staff held Halloween parties there.

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Now that I am free, I have Medicaid and doctors no longer assume I am malingering. I am not watched to make sure I swallow my pills. As a free man, even on parole, I can sense that my life has value again. Today, I’m less likely to die. And that feeling is priceless.

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3 Reasons why we’ll torture again

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by John Turley

As Shakespeare wrote in the Merchant of Venice, “truth will out.” The release of the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee was the long-awaited truth about one of this country’s most shameful chapters. Like water, truth has a way of finding its way out even against the determined obstruction. However, the question is what truth came out this week in the hundreds of pages of highly disturbing, and often disgusting, details of the “enhanced interrogation” program.

There are obvious “truths” about waterboarding being a crime and how torture is a poor vehicle for obtaining intelligence.

Then there are truths that are less obvious but equally clear in the pages of this report. Here are three such inconvenient truths that emerge from the Torture Report:

Truth #1: The CIA proved it is immune from legal restraints

As damaging as this report is to the reputation of the Agency, it reaffirms the underlying assumption that made the torture program possible: CIA officials enjoy effective immunity from the law.

The report details crimes that run gamut of the criminal code. It starts with torture itself that is not just a crime but a war crime. However, the report also details – and names some of those responsible – for destroying evidence, lying to Congress and obstructing investigations into the torture program. Former Director Michael V. Hayden is cited for actively telling employees to lie and for personally giving false information to Congress . CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin was expressly called on the Senate floor by Sen. Dianne Feinstein for giving false information to Congress. CIA General Counsel Scott Muller in 2003 is quoted as lying to the White House about the existence of videotapes on the interrogations. The report details false statement after false statement given by past directors and high-ranking officials to Congress, to the White House and to the American people. It also details how, after CIA were told about inquiries into the legality of the torture program, officials promptly ordered the destruction of video tapes to get rid of the evidence.

Yet, what did all of that prove? It proved that the CIA could commit all of these crimes, even war crimes, and not face a single federal charge. Not one. The only thing more chilling than the torture carried out in our name was the fact that it was carried out with utter impunity.

Truth #2: The Justice Department first facilitated torture and then obstructed its prosecution

One of the least discussed “truths” in this study is the ignoble role played by the Justice Department. During the Bush Administration, figures like Jay Bybee and John Yoo issued the infamous “torture memos” that gave legal cover for the programs. The only thing more tortured than the subjects was the legal authority used to justify their abuse. However, the report also details how the Bush and Obama administrations obstructed the investigation at every turn. Six months after Congress began to investigate the program and was demanding to interview key players, Attorney General Eric Holder suddenly announced the Justice Department’s own investigation under John Durham. As soon as the Justice Department investigation was announced, virtually every key player refused to speak with congressional investigators in light of the internal investigation. As expected, Durham later found that not a single crime could be found. Not in the destruction of evidence. Not in the false statements. Certainly not in the torture itself.

Holder and the Justice Department proved as much enablers as did their predecessors in the Bush administration. Soon after taking office, President Obama shocked many by going to the CIA and assuring employees that, despite his recognition of the torture, no one would be prosecuted. Holder and the Justice Department played as great a role in fulfilling that pledge as Justice did in facilitating the program itself.

Truth #3: Torture remains a question of effectiveness for many in government

Perhaps the most chilling truth is that the CIA and key American leaders continue to deny the very premise of both international and domestic laws. The key response of the CIA was to insist that the program was “effective” – the very rationale that is expressly rejected in the Convention Against Torture and other laws. It does not matter if torture was useful or productive. It is a war crime. We should know. We wrote that language saying that no nation can justify torture due to “exceptional circumstances” or effectiveness. Yet, the very agency that committed these crimes has continued to argue that those crimes were productive exercises.

The current debate over whether torture works reveals how far we have fallen as a nation in our view of this war crime. Not only does our embrace of torture threaten our own soldiers and citizens abroad, we have lost the moral high ground internationally. The truth is that torture could easily return to the United States so long as it is viewed as a practical question instead of a moral one.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

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